March 21, 2024

Veteran Actor M. Emmet Walsh Dead at 88

One of the most successful character actors in the business has passed away.

M. Emmet Walsh died on Tuesday, according to his manager.

The actor was 88 years old.

Always in Character

Walsh was a tall, intimidating character, and he found his niche playing off those personal traits.

In his most successful pictures, he played various authority figures, from lawmen to government officials to private detectives.

For instance, in “The Jerk,” he played a private eye who started using random names in the phone book to go on a shooting rampage.

During that same decade, he played Captain Bryant in “Blade Runner,” which made him a sci-fi fan favorite.

His now infamous line from that movie was, “Talk about beauty and the beast, she’s both.”

Even though he was usually a character actor, he also had his chances as the main character, most notably in “Blood Simple,” where he played Loren Visser, a private detective.

On that role, Walsh stated, “Every time, you [have to] try to figure something individual that works for the character.

“If you’re playing a villain, you don’t play villain. … Visser doesn’t think of himself as particularly bad or evil.

“He’s on the edge of what’s legal, but he’s having a lot of fun with all that. He’s a simple fella trying to make an extra buck and going a little further than he’d normally go in his business enterprises.”

On how he sunk into his roles, Walsh once stated, “I don’t want you to see an M. Emmet Walsh. I want you to see a garbage collector or a president of Princeton or whatever. … I do everyman. And also I play hard.”

Some of my personal favorites of Walsh’s were Dickie Dunn in “Slap Shot” and Coach Turnbull in “Back to School.”

He also had a role in one of my favorite all-time movies, the original “The Gambler” with James Caan in 1974.

This was a man who never rested, with 233 credits on his resume.

Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for the memories.

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